A theory about easy programming.

I do most of my programming in java and I use eclipse which just makes everything real easy. I can refactor, flip between source files, look up every instance of something with a few keystrokes and in a matter of seconds.

This past week I had to work on fixing a C program I wrote a few years ago. My dev environment for C programs isn’t quite as snappy as my java environment and I had to do a bunch of things the old school way. A text editor, a compiler that I actually have to invoke rather that being run automatically every time I hit save and so on.

It was a much smaller program than anything I usually work on but because of the environment involved, everything went a lot slower. I had to wait longer between writing something and testing, and between saving and compiling, and between debugging a line and seeing the watch variables get updated. Every little step of the entire process is slower.

And it makes the whole thing take longer as a result, but interestingly, it keeps my attention. While you’re in the thick of programming, getting distracted is the kiss of death, so I have to maintain my concentration for much longer periods of time, which gives me more time to think in the context in which I’m working, and gives
me time to think through some of the things I’m doing so that I do the right thing the first time instead of doing it wrong and then doing it again, but it’s so quick it doesn’t matter.

And the time just whipped right by, and I’m wondering if that’s not where my love of programming went. Killed by the rapid application development environment.

Making programming brainlessly easy (java combined with eclipse) takes the fun out of it. When was the last time I had to worry about a deallocating memory to avoid a memory leak? Years. Have I had a need to make something go so fast that it could only be done in a non-java language? Not in a long long time. 1991 I think. They just keep making hardware faster and faster.

I’m a dying breed I guess.

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